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OKC and Heaven are different because of Kevin Durant

Credit: Nate Billings via AP

On Friday, Kevin Durant broke the news that he was leaving the Thunder and, in turn, broke the hearts of Oklahoma fans around the country. After nine years with the NBA's Oklahoma City Thunder, Durant is joining the powerhouse Golden State Warriors. And as you might expect, the visceral reaction has been telling.

"Weak move by KD," the always candid and never tactful Steven A. Smith tweeted. "You go to GSW, the team who beat you, when you're already on a title contender? Please!" He added in USA Today: "Kevin Durant is one of the top three players in the world and he ran away from the challenge that he faces in order to jump on the bandwagon of a team that's a little bit better."

Smith used words, but many Thunder fans communicated with their actions. Using the Fourth of July weekend, and a readily available assortment of tools dealing with fire, many took time to set ablaze their Durant jersey and other memorabilia. Others took to social media, vacillating between anger at him, appreciation of him, and mourning because of him. And then there was comedian Frank Caliendo's response. He impersonated Morgan Freeman voice as he read Durant's op-ed.

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The Life and Faith of Pat Summitt

Credit: Wade Payne via AP

There will never be another Pat Summitt. Someone may come along and win more games, but her legacy consists of far more than wins on the court or trophies hoisted. Hall of Fame coach Pat Head Summitt, a pioneer of women's college basketball who guided the Tennessee Lady Volunteers to eight national titles in her thirty-eight seasons, died Tuesday morning. She was 64.

I grew up in the same town as Coach Summitt. It is impossible to overstate her prominence, but I highly desire to find a way of connecting with her—hence the reason I mentioned I am from her hometown. People try to find some way of associating themselves with her. This speaks highly of her character.

Her integrity coupled with her tenacity made individuals want to be connected with her in some form or fashion. Girls grew up wanting to play for her; guys grew up hoping they wouldn't have to play against her or her teams. You felt her glaring stare, were inspired by her tenacious spirit, and motivated by her unsatisfied yearning for more. "It is what it is. But, it will be what you make it."

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Criticizing LeBron and Steph

Golden State Warriors’ Stephen Curry, bottom, drives to the basket against Cleveland Cavaliers' LeBron James in the second half in Game 6 of the NBA basketball Finals, Thursday, June 16, 2016, in Cleveland. The Cavaliers won 115-101. (AP Photo/Ron Schwane)Star players in every sport always receive the preponderance of the praise when things go well and the bulk of the blame when they don't. The 2016 NBA Finals has seen the pendulum of praise go back and forth between Steph Curry and LeBron James. The Warriors won games 1, 2, and 4 easily, and Curry's defense and shooting were key. The Cavaliers won games 3, 5, and 6, and LeBron James' overall excellence was on display in each of those wins.

However, both have been lambasted at various points in the series. When the Warriors win, LeBron is cast as the star player who can't grab the moment, and when the Cavs win, Curry gets labelled as soft and temperamental. Such is life in one of the most star-obsessed leagues.

The larger narrative is that when the Warriors win, it's because Draymond Green, Harrison Barnes, Klay Thompson, and Andre Igoudala all have stellar performances, and when the Cavs when, it's because Kyrie Irving, Tristan Thompson, and Richard Jefferson are all locked in. The final outcome is much more dependent upon these secondary players than most would like to think.

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Sidney Crosby and the power of presence

 Pittsburgh Penguins center Sidney Crosby raises the Stanley Cup after Game 6 of the NHL hockey Stanley Cup Finals against the San Jose Sharks Sunday, June 12, 2016, in San Jose, Calif. The Pittsburgh Penguins won 3-1 to win the series 4-2. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)Few experiences in sports are as consistently exciting as playoff hockey. The NHL playoffs culminated Sunday when the Pittsburgh Penguins defeated the San Jose Sharks 3–1 to win their first Stanley Cup since 2009. That previous championship run came in star player Sidney Crosby's fourth year in the league, by which time he had already established himself as one of the game's best players.

That victory was supposed to be the start of a long and fruitful run that would see the Penguins become a near-annual fixture deep in the playoffs. However, a series of first- and second-round exits, complicated by concussion trouble for their best player, meant that they wouldn't make it back to the finals until this year. And even that was one of the more improbable runs in recent history.

If you'd told Pittsburgh fans, or even the players, back in December that they'd be holding Lord Stanley's Cup today, most would have thought you were delusional. When the team fired Coach Mike Johnson on December 12th, they were sitting outside the playoffs while dealing with injuries, an imbalanced roster, and a star player that simply wasn't a good fit for the previous regime's schemes. However, once the team's minor league coach, Mike Sullivan, took over, things quickly began to turn around and those closest to the team credit Crosby for playing an integral role, both on and off the ice, in getting the Penguins to where they are today.

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The Fight and Faith of Muhammad Ali

Credit: John Rooney via AP

By now you have seen, heard, and talked about the passing of Muhammad Ali (1942-2016). Such is life in the age of the Internet, when news is dated and ubiquitous within moments. But there was a time when the spreading of the news was dependent upon its significance. Today, the shooting of a gorilla spreads just as quickly as Taylor Swift's breakup. However, this wasn't always the case, unless of course, you were "the greatest."

Muhammad Ali was the greatest because he was a fighter. Obviously, we remember him for his fights in the ring. 'The Rumble in the Jungle' with George Foreman of grill fame. 'The Fight of the Century' against Joe Frazier. 'The Thrilla in Manilla' where his rope-a-dope strategy and Ali shuffle gave him the win by technical knockout. Ali fought in the ring to become the greatest, but his fighting outside the ring is what made him an American icon.

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